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Vysotsky’s “Song About a Friend”

Владимир Высоцкий (Vladimir Vysotsky, 1938-1980) was a Soviet singer, poet and actor. He became wildly know for his unique way of singing, treating serious social and political problems with a ferocious humour.

Vysotsky said once about his songs: “Many years ago I was with my closest friends, relating them about my various journeys, well mostly my perceptions put in verses with a sort of a rhythm. So I took my guitar and started to play. And what came out of this was a kind of a song. But it wasn't a song. It was, as I understood it later, poetry recited with musical accompaniment. I remember the atmosphere at that time. It was an atmosphere of confidence, freedom, and what is the most important, friendship.”

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Песня о друге (Song about a friend) was written in 1966.

Если друг оказался вдруг If your friend suddenly appeared
И не друг, и не враг, а – так, Not a friend, not a foe, – just so
Если сразу не разберёшь, If you cannot decide from the start,
Плох он или хорош,- If he is bad or if he is good,
Парня в горы тяни - рискни! Take him to the pick – don't fret!
Не бросай одного его, Don't leave him alone,
Пусть он в связке в одной с тобой – Let him be one with you -
Там поймёшь, кто такой. And you'll know who he is.
Если парень в горах - не ах, If the guy gets scared on the track,
Если сразу раскис и - вниз, If he gets weak and looses heart,
Шаг ступил на ледник и - сник, And steps back on the ice, and get lost,
Оступился - и в крик,- If he stumbles and screams out of exhaustion,
Значит, рядом с тобой - чужой, Then next to you, you have a stranger,
Ты его не брани - гони: Don't yell at him, just let him go:
Вверх таких не берут, и тут Such persons you don't need, and in short
Про таких не поют. You don't sing for those guys.
Если ж он не скулил, не ныл, If the guy didn't whine nor complain,
Пусть он хмур был и зол, но - шёл, And dull and upset he kept going,
А когда ты упал со скал, And when you slipped over the cliff,
Он стонал, но - держал, He struggled but hold you in his grip,
Если шёл за тобой, как в бой, If he walked next to you as a good soldier,
На вершине стоял хмельной,- And on the top he stood tipsy,
Значит, как на себя самого, Then you know you can trust him,
Положись на него. As you trust yourself.

Vladimir Vysotsky, 1938-1980…